Internet Accessibility

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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Web Accessibility problems may involve

Cognitive
Reading disorders, learning disabilities, reading disabilities, thinking, remembering, sequencing disabilities, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Useability will be enhanced with illustrations, good graphics, organized content with headings, and visual cues for navigation.
Hearing
Deafness and hard of hearing. Users may need assistive technology to read audio transcripts or view fully captioned multimedia content.
Motor
Physical disabilities, lack of a digit or hand, epilepsy, or short stature. Users may have limited strength, reach or manipulation, tremor, lack of sensation, inability to use a mouse, slow response time, or lack of fine muscle control. Users may need to use assistive technology to adapt the computer interface to their disability such as mouth sticks to type keyboard commands; eye-tracking software that uses eye movement for computer commands; height control for desktops, chairs, and keyboards; keyboards with raised ridges in-between the keys; and voice input.
Speech
Voice input, speech output, inability to speak, stutter, strong foreign accent, or speech impediment. Users may require an environmental noise filter to hear correctly, high quality noise-cancellation technology of the sound card and/or microphone, a faster CPU with enough memory for processing the speech without slowing it down, the ability to enter foreign words and phrases, technical and scientific terms, or other speech that is easily recognized by the software, or the user needs to pause mid-sentence to catch his/her breath or read from a manuscript.
Visual
Blindness, low vision, color-blindness, and lack of color perception. Users may require the use of a screen-reader application to feed Braille or text-to-speech browsers. Screen-reader applications read a Web page one line at a time, horizontally across the page. Screen readers may also be used by sighted users who don’t have sound on their computer or who don’t want to turn sound on in public places such as airplanes, libraries, or office cubicles.
Combination of disabilities
Deafblindness. Users may need a variety of input and output devices.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 750 million people with disabilities world wide. According to the U.S. Census, 54 million of these live in the United States and about 25 million of these have difficulty accessing the Internet. It is estimated that this population in the U.S. controls a discretionary income over $175 billion annually. Therefore, people with disabilities can have a powerful economic impact on several segments of the economy. With the aging Baby Boomers, these numbers will increase accessibility needs and their affluence will have a strong affect on market share for accessible devices and business’ return on investment (ROI) to provide accessible products and work environments.

Reference Books and Resources

There are several excellent books about creating and maintaining accessible Web pages. See the suggested reading list for general information and detailed reference books for your library that relate to the accessibility and usability of Web pages.

Find more resources using the Areas of Focus Internet Accessibility category search.